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FRANKFORT — Gov. Matt Bevin said Tuesday he now opposes removing the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from the Kentucky Capitol Rotunda and echoed comments by President Donald Trump that all sides share blame for the violent events this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.
BEVERLY, Mass. —A former student at a small private college in rural Massachusetts, who served jail time after committing a series of violent attacks, has filed a lawsuit claiming the college is to blame for his actions three years ago.Dillon Destefano, now 22, pleaded guilty in 2014 to randomly punching three students in one night at Endicott College, in Beverley, leaving one student with a broken and dislocated jaw that had to be wired shut, another with a broken orbital bone and sinus, and a third with a split lip.During his sentencing hearing, Destefano blamed not only the alcohol he’d consumed that night at a party on campus but also the performance-enhancing drugs he was taking.He was sentenced to a total of four years in prison on assault and battery and witness intimidation charges. He was paroled last year and has returned to his hometown, River Vale, New Jersey.Now, Destefano is citing Massachusetts' social host liability law, which says it is illegal for anyone over the age of 21 to supply alcohol or knowingly condone underage drinking. Destefano is claiming that the school tacitly approved of underage drinking on campus, which goes against the law and the school’s duty of care to protect its students from harm.The suit says the failure of the college and President Richard Wylie to enforce the legal drinking age of 21 on campus caused Destefano to “become so extremely intoxicated that he lost the capacity to conform his actions to the requirements of the law.”The suit was filed by Salem, Massachusetts attorney Stephen Lovely on Feb. 1, three years to the day after Destefano’s crimes occurred, just as the statute of limitations was about to expire.His attorneys in the criminal case, Tom Kiley and Martin Weinberg, also suggested that Endicott was “not the bucolic campus” that had been portrayed to parents of prospective students.“Underage drinking is a real problem there,” Kiley said during Destefano’s sentencing in June 2014. “It was a real problem for Dillon Destefano and his friends.”In the lawsuit, Destefano and his current attorney focused the blame on the college and Wylie. Before the assaults, the lawsuit says, Destefano had an “exemplary record” at Endicott and was “widely known as a quiet, peaceful, sociable and caring individual.”But on the night of the incidents, Destefano and other students “consumed an inordinate amount of alcoholic beverages” at two dorm parties and campus police failed to intervene, according to the lawsuit.Drinking, the suit says, had lowered Destefano’s inhibitions and caused him to respond violently to several perceived provocations, including a snowball being thrown at him.The suit also says the school had a special duty to protect students, and that it was negligent in supervising them. Destefano’s roommate was 21, of legal drinking age, and was allowed to keep alcohol in his dorm room, the suit says, despite Destefano’s being 19 at the time.The suit seeks damages for the loss of Destefano’s reputation and for pain and suffering.The school and Wylie had not been served with the complaint and declined comment. Lovely also declined to comment.Leighton and Manganis write for the Salem, Massachusetts News.